Soldiers killed in Afghanistan are named

A COLCHESTER-based senior soldier who was killed in a firefight with the Taliban has been named today as Sergeant Major Michael Williams.

A COLCHESTER-based senior soldier who was killed in a firefight with the Taliban has been named today as Sergeant Major Michael Williams.

A second soldier killed as he checked for mines in the same Afghan operation on Tuesday has been named as Private Joe Whittaker, from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Sgt Maj Williams, who was from Cardiff and was a member of 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was the sixth Colchester-based soldier to die in Afghanistan in just three weeks.

Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan today paid tribute to the soldiers.

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“Yesterday the battalion lost one of its most senior and its most junior soldiers,” he said.

“Sergeant Major Michael Williams joined the regiment in 1986, Private Joe Whittaker was a reserve soldier from 4 Para and part of a 48-strong contingent of 4 Para integrated into 2 Para Battle Group for our tour.

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“Sgt Maj Williams died commanding C (Bruneval) Company's Fire Support Group while the Company was in contact in the Upper Sangin Valley.

“Pte Whittaker was part of a mine detection team and was killed helping to ensure that the large vehicle resupply convoys could reach our Forward Operating Bases.

“Sgt Maj Williams had given most of his working life to the Parachute Regiment - Pte Whittaker was just starting his working life.

“Sgt Maj Williams was a warrant officer and part of that very special group of men, the senior non-commissioned officers of the battalion, who are its glue and its heart, and who lead the engine room of the sergeants' mess.

“Pte Whittaker had already passed the Army Officers Selection Board, and was soon to begin his training to become an army officer and, he hoped, an Apache pilot.

“These two men were very different in age, experience and rank, but both were inspired by the challenge of service with the Parachute Regiment, and the very difficult task that confronts us each day here in Northern Helmand.

“Both were respected and both will be sorely missed by their friends and the battle group, but most of all by their families.

“They join five other brave members of 2 Para who have given their lives in recent weeks.

“The regimental motto (Utrinque Paratus) is 'ready for anything' - Sgt Maj Michael Williams and Pte Joe Whittaker were ready for the risks they calmly accepted on the day that they died.

“They are an example to the rest of us, and their courage and commitment will spur us on to give our best to improve the situation here, no matter how difficult or dangerous other people may tell us that will be. Utrinque Paratus.”

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